Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Nicolson Square

By Ron Butlin

The girl's left hand keeps her coat shut, the other's
the traffic breaking to a stop around her.
Hardly sixteen - bleached hair, bleached skin, fear.
empty. She's standing in the middle of the street,
The man she's with – badly healing cuts and anger
clenched into a face, pressed-in bruises
where the eyes should be.
She's telling him she's sorry, and being sworn at.
Nearby, a parliament of two men and a woman sits arguing
upon the pavement; they shout at her to grow up,
can't she? A taxi horn blares.
She doesn't move.
I drop my 50p into the parliamentary cup, and walk past.
Behind me, the street shuts like a book, the place marked
just at the point where he hits her
in the mouth.
When I'm back this evening, the story will have moved on.
No girl, no man and no parliament – only you and I
and everyone else, and the street growing darker around us
as the sun abandons it.

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